A Number of years ago I read about and developed a mythological attraction to Ahmed Shah Massoud. In the simplest of terms, Massoud was the leader of the Northern Alliance, fighting both Communists and fundamentalists – during the years of Soviet occupation and through the ascendancy of the Taleban.
On Sept 09, 2001 he was assassinated by Al-Qaeda suicide bombers and is now considered a national hero to Afghanistan.
With the Pakistan chopper trip cancelled we drove out to the Afghan Border Police headquarters today and met Major General Khalil, one of the leaders of the ABP.
Asked to give a small presentation of my work to the general I noticed a portrait on the general's bookshelf and, asking if it was of Massoud, found out that the General was his personal pilot for 15 years. Some years back a did a small drawing of Massoud and, still having it on my laptop, showed it today.
After being interviewed on CBC Radio a few years back, I met Chris Hedges in the hall of the CBC building, he having also been interviewed that day. Today's meeting had a similar feel of being in proximity to someone/something that really resonated with me. In the case of Hedges it was his real and hard-earned insight on the draw to violence. In the case of the general it went right to the core of the noble warrior myth, of which I am suspicious but also recognize, on occasion, to have the authenticity of lived experience.
Below are photos taken going to and from the ABP HQ, with a portrait of the rightly proud looking General in front of a map of Afghanistan.
The deployment is almost over but today has given me a real tickle inside.